The Shanghai Dragons’ victory over the Seoul Dynasty
The Shanghai Dragons’ rise from an 0-42 loss streak (that included an 0-40 season) has been well-documented and has been since they won their first match and their first stage final last year. Yet even that success is different than the attitude of the current Dragons team. The Dragons are now favorites, with a roster of veterans and rookies all hungry to win and a strong coach in Moon “Moon” Byeong-cheol. Although the Dragons dropped a match to the Seoul Dynasty earlier this month, making them the second-seed in the Asia-Pacific May Melee tournament, they were still favorites to take it all this weekend, and they delivered in spectacular fashion.
Who better to challenge them in the finals than the Dynasty, surprise finalists who have been inconsistent with flashes of brilliance (hero pools depending) all year? For all of the legitimate concerns over the Overwatch League’s myriad struggles in 2020, this was the best and most entertaining Overwatch we’ve seen in a while. The seven-map reverse sweep of the Dynasty by the Dragons had everything: Choi “Bdosin” Seung-tae and Hong “Gesture” Jae-hui returning to championship duo form. Park “Profit” Joon-yeong carrying on Tracer. Hwang “Marve1” Min-seo making his case as the best Sigma in the world. And that’s just a brief list of what we saw from Seoul.
The Dragons showed impressive mental fortitude, adjusting both compositionally and with their available talent. While showcasing the trust they have placed in players like rookie DPS star Lee “LIP” Jae-won or returning main tank Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok (who was a part of the original Shanghai lineup) these players paid the Dragons back with strong individual and group performances. And that’s not even mentioning standout plays from the likes of veteran DPS player Kim “Fleta” Byeong-sun who had one of the most casual spawn swaps into a Widowmaker 4K that I’ve ever seen.
May Melee, from a viewership and competitive standpoint, was a rousing success. Although I’ve spent these past few paragraphs singing the praises of the Dragons-Shanghai series, the entire side of the APAC bracket was highly entertaining, and the North American side also delivered with a phenomenal series between the rising upstarts on the Florida Mayhem and reigning champions in the San Francisco Shock. The Shock came out on top, but it was still a fantastic six-map series between two talented teams.
We can only hope that the league learns from this and implements this for future events (cough, get rid of hero pools, cough) but even if they don’t, at least we’ll have Dragons-Dynasty to look back on. — Emily Rand
Honorable Mention: The Chicago Huntsmen
Picking an honorable mention was tough this week. You had the finals of the Fortnite Champion Series, which produced a 15-year-old German champion in the Europe tournament, JannisZ, who won $120,000 USD after dominating the entire weekend. Then, in NA East, veterans of the scene Bugha (the 2019 Fortnite World Cup champion), Clix, Zayt and many more battled it out, with 16-year-old Furious taking the $100,000 top prize despite being out of the top ten coming into the final day.
But at the end of the weekend, the storylines going into the Call of Duty League Seattle Home Series final were too tantalizing to resist.
The London Royal Ravens, with new addition Zer0, made their first tournament final of the season (after Zer0 got sweet revenge against his old team NYSL no less) facing the rejuvenated Huntsmen, who had Prestinni making his debut on the team after the roller coaster of a past couple months he has had personally and professionally. That’s one heck of a setup for a final. It was National Brothers Day on Sunday, and this final had a pair of twins on both sides: Prestinni and Arcitys for Chicago, Wuskin and Scrapz for London.
The Huntsmen lost only three maps all weekend. They looked like a team on a mission. Perhaps they were — whether it was sparked by Prestinni, who seemed to fit right in and contributed nicely, despite playing online competitively for the first time this season and with a new team that only scrimmed domination together twice before the weekend … or maybe the Huntsmen were sick of being the “hunted,” getting pushed out of the “top of the league” conversation due to Dallas and Atlanta’s previous results. Whatever it was, Chicago looked recency bias right in the eyes and said “it’s our turn now.” This was a statement weekend by a team that stole a line from Jay-Z and told COD fans “Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.”
We could even extend the honorable mention to NRG as an org — the San Francisco Shock were also winners in the May Melee tournament in Overwatch League. Not bad, pulling down a OWL and CDL victory in one weekend, plus having two competitors place in the top 15 of the Fortnite Champions Cup. — Arda Ocal